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Govt upgrades IT to check cyber threats

The move comes in the wake of a large number of cyber security incidents being reported by CERT-In. (iStockphoto)Premium
The move comes in the wake of a large number of cyber security incidents being reported by CERT-In. (iStockphoto)

The Centre has started a drive to upgrade its IT equipment and infrastructure so that all electronic, data storage, and communication devices used in government departments and agencies remain within the life span specified by the manufacturer and remain immune to cyber threats

NEW DELHI : The Centre has started a drive to upgrade its IT equipment and infrastructure so that all electronic, data storage, and communication devices used in government departments and agencies remain within the life span specified by the manufacturer and remain immune to cyber threats.

The move comes in the wake of a large number of cyber security incidents being reported by the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), a nodal agency for responding to such incidents and a ransomware attack at country’s top medical institute, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, on 23 November.

The ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY) has directed all secretaries of central ministries to take action with regard to cyber security. Use of out-of-date operating systems and IT equipment must be discontinued, MeitY said in a communication reviewed by Mint.

“With increased digitization and online governance, cyber security has become an integral and important part of the governance. Hackers/crackers exploit weakness such as ignorance or non-adherence to security procedures, flaws in processes, or vulnerabilities in technology (both hardware and software)," Alkesh Kumar Sharma, secretary, MeitY, told all secretaries.

“The use of out-of-date operating systems and IT equipment must be discontinued as it makes the sensitive government system susceptible to cyber attacks. I would request you to kindly issue direction regarding lifespan of IT equipment. This will help maintain a cyber risk-free environment in government departments," Sharma said.

In 2021, CERT-In handled more than 14 lakh incidents of cyber threats. The grid is under constant attack, with at least 30 events reported daily, as reported by Mint.

“As we saw in the recent AIIMS attack, it directly cripples the functioning of the hospital and results in people suffering in terms of treatments and long-standing queues. Healthcare industries have databases and devices connected to wireless servers crucial for life-saving purposes," said the spokesperson of CloudSEK, a Singapore-based cyber security firm.

Earlier in the day, hackers demanded 200 crore in cryptocurrency from AIIMS, Delhi, as the server remained down for 6th day with the institute providing healthcare services to the patients manually. However, a Delhi Police spokesperson said “No ransom demand as being quoted by certain sections of the media, has been brought to notice by AIIMS authorities."

“Data restoration and server cleaning is in process and is taking some time because of the volume of data and large number of servers for the hospital services. Measures are being taken for cyber security. All hospital services, including outpatient, in patient, and laboratories continue to run on manual mode," AIIMS said.

Queries sent to the health ministry were not responded to till press time.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Priyanka Sharma

Priyanka Shamra is a health and pharma journalist with nearly nine years of field reporting experience. She is a special correspondent with Mint. Her beat includes covering the Ministry of Health and Department of Pharmaceuticals. She also covers the Ministry of Women and Child Development and the Department of Biotechnology.
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